Thursday, July 18, 2013

Katherine Grace Bond Interview - The Summer of No Regrets

Photo Credit: Heidi-Pettit

Katherine Grace Bond is the author of THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS (Sourcebooks, 2012) and of the bestselling LEGEND OF THE VALENTINE (Zondervan, 2002), a story of the civil rights movement. She often finds herself in the woods escaping from giant cats and shadowy figures in cloaks. The creator of TEENWrite acting/writing workshops, where participants come as their characters, she lives with her husband in a dimension populated by younger people, some of whom resemble her.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (May 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402265042
ISBN-13: 978-1402265044


"...a novel of identity, true love, and the meaning of death; all told in the voice of a bright, thoughtful, and passionately self-contradictory teenage girl."- Blogger Kristen, Book Talk " Book Talk

" summer read with a little bit of a serious twist...You'll laugh, you'll tear up, and you'll be on the hunt for a celebrity lookalike crush in no time"- Blogger Tara, Fiction Folio " Fiction Folio

"...the sort of book that should top your "to reads" list."- Blogger Amanda, Letters Inside Out " Letters Inside Out

"...a delightful tale of self-discovery and of burgeoning romance."-Blogger Allison, Allison Can Read " Allison Can Read

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
At some point in second grade I came to understand that each of the lovely books I was reading was created by someone—and that it was this person’s job to create books. In those days, as a girl, my career choices were limited to ballerina, teacher, nurse, secretary and movie star. I wasn’t interested in ballet, secretaries’ jobs looked boring, nurses had to give shots, and I had, by that time, let go of my wish for movie stardom. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher like my mother. Now I had a new job possibility! And writing was something I already loved. My favorite author at the time was Beverly Cleary. I determined that I wanted to be like her and have a job writing books. I now teach and write books. I’m glad that little girls today know that women can be astrophysicists and senators. And I am grateful to my mother and to Beverly Cleary. Because I truly love what I do.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I know that for me, storytelling gives me hope, because I can imagine a spark of redemption in each story—even the difficult ones. By that I mean that nothing happens without purpose; there is no wasted suffering and there is no wasted compassion. I don’t mean that suffering is our fate or that God is torturing us—just that when we go through hard times it sometimes feels so pointless. It’s hard to imagine anything good coming of it. When I write, hear or read a story (as opposed to living a story), I have the opportunity to see it from a vantage point—to see how all of us are connected to one another and how we can use our experiences to increase our compassion and bring love and help to someone who may feel very alone. It’s empowering to know that. I may hurt sometimes, but I can also change the world.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I have so many favorite books! Most of them from childhood: WINNIE THE POOH, and A LITTLE PRINCESS to name a couple of them. The book I always return to as one of my most memorable reading experiences is A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle. I think it’s because when my Nana first took it out of her suitcase, I didn’t want to read it—I hated the cover. But she said, “What if I read you one chapter a night?” And she did. One and only one chapter, though I would beg for more.

There was something in the questions the book asked—about love and light and darkness and evil and how your flaws could be your assets—that was different from any book I’d ever read. I like to ask those kinds of questions in my own books. Meeting Madeleine L’Engle as an adult (or simply “Madeleine” as many of us writers lovingly called her) was a highlight of my early years in publishing.

So hard to pick a favorite! *A* favorite book outside my genre (but who knows where my genre will go?) is Connie Willis’s sci-fi time travel THE DOOMSDAY BOOK. It has such a perfect balance of humor, meticulous historical detail and heartbreaking storytelling. I love it.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
“I think it sounds like a wonderful book, if you’ll just leave it alone and let it write.” –Madeleine L’Engle.

In your new book; The Summer of No Regrets, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
On the surface, it’s a book about a girl who falls in love with a guy who may be a movie star in hiding. But there’s a lot more going on than the back cover reveals. Brigitta is on a quest. She’s trying to navigate the loss of the person who knew her best (her grandmother) while her atheist-turned-shaman father refuses to talk about her. She wants a religion she can call her own—hoping that it will bring her an understanding of that mysterious thing called death. She wants to be understood by someone when at the same time she wants to hide who she really is. And she’s embarrassed by her fixation with celebrities. Which is why Luke looking like a particular teen heartthrob is just as annoying as it is fascinating—particularly when she begins falling for him.

When she ends up saving Luke from a cougar—and then trying to secretly raise the cougar’s cubs with him, she feels “known” for the first time—as if she’s finally found a kindred spirit. But who is he, really? And what is it to be known?

What part of Luke did you enjoy writing the most?
His journal. Which is a book all its own, separate from THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS. Luke wouldn’t talk to me for a long time. Usually my characters will talk to me eventually, but he was a hard nut to crack. I had a rough idea where he was going on the occasions he would disappear for days at a time, and I pretty good notion of why he came back so surly, but he wouldn’t reveal himself to me until I asked him to write the journal. I didn’t expect it to turn into its own story with its own arc—things Luke was going through that are not explicitly mentioned in THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS—but it was the journal that made me love him, despite what a jerk he sometimes is. It’s way shorter than THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS because it takes place over the same timeline and includes his reflections on things that happen in the book rather than a complete rehashing of scenes the reader would already have read. Some of it is in French, which was a lot of fun, and gave my French skills a run for their money (and allowed me to reconnect with my old supervisor from my French teaching days). Don’t worry; all the French is translated.

I think I just loved finding out what a truly caring human being he is—wounded and sometimes tough—but thoughtful and caring as well.

For those who are unfamiliar with Brigitta, how would you introduce her?
She’s strong, but doesn’t know how strong she is—and her strength comes in her questions. What is it to be known? What is love? What is friendship? What happens when you die? What does it mean to be a “good” person? Her questions make her search and her searching helps her to uncover things—about herself, and about others. I like it that she isn’t dazzled by Luke—that she is sometimes hard on him and is not willing to simply swoon before him, which may—or may not—be what he is accustomed to with girls. She’s got an innate knowledge of animals and of the woods. She’s just a little bit ethereal, actually—she seems to feel and sense things that are beyond this reality, and that seems natural to her. At the end of the day she is not unwilling to admit when she is wrong.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I have two books in progress at the moment. One is about a girl whose mother is a famous author. When her mom begins to fall apart, the girl tries to cover for her, while not understanding what is wrong. But when it’s time for the mom to submit her next book, and all she has is a confusing mess of a manuscript, the girl submits her own book under her mother’s name—and it becomes an overnight sensation.

The other is a time travel novel in verse. It’s about a girl whose “job” it is to talk her dad out of killing himself—which he threatens repeatedly to do. On the night her dad threatens again and then goes missing, the girl is at the Seattle Art Museum where she works. A painting by Edouard Manet begins acting strangely and she steps through it into the Paris of 1871 and the Impressionists. And she might just want to stay there.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love to introduce Brigitta to Puck Connally from Maggie Stiefvater’s THE SCORPIO RACES. Puck is so tenacious and unwilling to back down when challenged. I think she’d be an encouragement to Brigitta—that Brigitta’s willingness to be blunt can be an asset, and that sticking to your guns under pressure can be life-changing.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Wow, you’re asking a compulsively honest person this? Someone who, as a child, confessed to my mother every dirty joke I heard on the playground?

I think it would be a question that, if I answered it in detail, may crush a person and take away their hope. Some people think they are ready to publish before they really are. And while I never say, “This is publishable work” if it isn’t, I may avoid talking about publishability for those whose skills are still developing. I can’t know whether in three years, or five or ten, they may have the chops to attract an editor, so there’s no sense making a definitive statement about their writing that may stop their dream in its tracks.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Talk to your characters. Have a story journal where you can do your “off stage” writing, and muse about the book a lot in there. Let your characters speak to you there as well as on the pages of the manuscript. Sometimes they are more transparent and authentic when they don’t think they’re speaking for an audience. And you’ll get a more unique voice if you let go of the audience idea at that stage of the game.

What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
Hard to say at this point, because I’ve been married to my best friend for thirty years. But back when I was a teenager, it was telling someone I loved them. It was months of “I love you’s” from my now-husband until he heard those words from my mouth.

What's the most memorable job you've ever had?
Probably one of the ones I have right now—taking teenagers to cool locations to role-play and write. It’s good for me, because it forces me to get into costume and into character, too—something I might not do if I wasn’t the founding director of TEENWrite. It keeps my imagination flowing. And really, who has regular opportunities to escape giant raptors, travel through space-time portals, and have conversations with cyborgs?

Who was your first boyfriend?
His name was Ken. It is now Theresa. Enough said.

Tell me about your first kiss
You have to know what Green Stamps were. They were these collectible stamps you could get at gas stations. When you saved up enough of them, you could use them to buy things like flatware. They were a thing parents of the 60’s and 70’s often collected.

My first kiss was Ken. We were outside the church doors at a youth retreat, and he said, “Kiss me; I give Green Stamps.”

When was the last time you cried?
It was at our last TEENWrite EPIC event. I closed the door to the girls’ dorm and asked my TW girls for parenting advice in an area where I was really hitting a wall. And in the middle of that—for the first time they’d probably ever seen me do it—I burst into tears. And they gave me this enormous group hug, which made me cry even more.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
Probably when I was one: the 70’s. It was such a time of change. Things opened up for women that were never available to us before. Also, that was over three decades ago, meaning that my teen years, as much as they remain in my heart, are blissfully behind me.

What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
I do love my lattes.

This was the summer that would change my life.
No more being what everyone expected. No more doing what everyone else wanted.
So when Luke came into my life, I decided to keep him a secret. Maybe he as a dead-ringer for notorious Hollywood bad boy Trent Yves. And it was possible that everything he told me was a lie. And yes, I was probably asking for trouble. But all I saw was Luke--sweet, funny, caring--someone who would let me be the real me.
But which was the real him?

Around her family and friends, sixteen-year-old Brigitta seems to be a normal teenager that is contented with life but deep down inside, she’s sheltering her true feelings and keeping it a secret. She also has a secret enthrallment with celebrities and maintains a blog that no one knows about. Since the passing of her grandparents and her relationship with her father becoming non-existent, she’s searching for purpose in life but falls short of people she cares about that she can talk to. All seems to change when she meets Luke. Although he looks exactly like Trent Yves, the super-hot Hollywood actor, Brigitta eventually forgets about this detail as she becomes more comfortable being herself around him. She feels that she’s finally found someone who she can totally be honest with.

The one thing I found to set this book apart from others like it is how the main character, Brigitta, had so many dimensions. Author Katherine Grace Bond introduced a character that is different but still very relatable. She resorts to her tree house when she feels like escaping reality and buries herself in her celebrity magazines. She’s definitely a character that is unique and quite intriguing.

The relationship she builds with Luke is the gem of the story as it helps Brigitta find a way to deal with all the things happening in her life and the loss of her grandparents. Although everyone believes Luke is Trent Yves in hiding, Brigitta sees him as the caring Luke that she has come to know.

The Summer of No Regrets is a poignant story with many layers of depth. It is a story about romance, family, finding oneself and the hunger for connection. Celebrity and Luke are part of the story but they were not the main focal points. I was pleasantly surprised that it went deeper than expected as Katherine Grace Bond delivered a gorgeously written novel that examines the emotions felt by the human heart.

You can purchase The Summer of No Regrets at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KATHERINE GRACE BOND for making this giveaway possible.
4 Winners will receive a Copy of The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond.
1 Winner will receive a Surprise ART Poster and Bookmark by James Vallesteros. 
5 Winners will receive a Surprise ART Bookmark by James Vallesteros.


JULY 21st SUNDAY Beauty and the Bookshelf REVIEW
JULY 21st SUNDAY A Dream Within a Dream EXCERPT
JULY 22nd MONDAY Chapter by Chapter MUSIC PLAYLIST
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JULY 23rd TUESDAY Beneath the Cover TENS LIST

JULY 25th THURSDAY Once Upon a Twilight REVIEW
JULY 26th FRIDAY Ramblings From This Chick EXCERPT
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  1. Thank you for the giveaway!! I really want to read this book- sounds very interesting!